A new study on the financial health of the nation's LGBT organizations finds "strong operating efficiency" despite a double-digit downturn in 2009 funding and a low percentage of gay individuals who donate to such advocacy, legal, and issue-based groups.
The report, released Wednesday by the Movement Advancement Project and based on the financial data of 39 organizations including the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, found a 20% drop in 2009 revenue ($161.3 million) compared to 2008 levels ($202.7 million). The organizations participating represent 69% of the budgets of the nation's LGBT advocacy and social justice groups.
Though fund-raising in 2009, a non-election year marked by an economic downturn, would perhaps be expected to experience a year-over-year decrease, the report found that overall estimated expenses in 2010 for the groups analyzed have dropped below 2006 levels. Moreover, less than 4% of LGBT individuals gave $35 or more to gay groups in 2009 -- an aggressive estimate, researchers said, in part because donor overlap likely exists between organizations.
"We've seen a tremendous amount of progress in the last week and the last couple of years [in LGBT rights gains], but we're also facing a political climate where change will be more difficult," said MAP executive director Ineke Mushovic. "Bottom line, if we want to continue to advance equality and to resist opponents' efforts to pull back those advances, we really do need to give to LGBT organizations."
The disparity in funding between LGBT groups and antigay organizations is indeed stark: Combined 2009 expenses of the groups surveyed -- $165.6 million -- represents just half of the total annual expenses of the 10 largest groups working to undermine LGBT equality advancements that same year, groups including the Heritage Foundation and the Alliance Defense Fund.
But the study also found that the financial health of LGBT organizations generally remains strong. Stability indicators include a health liquidity ratio and steady cash and net assets.